- Kona Sankey
If the Pet-Friendly Penticton project has made one thing clear, it's that this community is passionate about their pets – Pets are family!
Do you share that passion? Tell us about the pets in your life!
If you don't have pets at home, let us know how animals have been important in your life.
I have raised 3 boys here in Penticton, and pets have always been a part of our family and our lives. We currently have one cat in our home, and my grand dog, Chek, lives with my son and his family in their home, also with their cat. Chek has been a part of the family for 8 years and comes for sleepovers and visits with us often, so he is not lonely when his family is away from home.
Penticton's pet-amenities are a regular point of contention due to issues around
maintenance, safety, and design/materials. Many Penticton residents regularly travel to surrounding communities across the Okanagan Valley for their dog parks and beaches rather than going to our local places due to these issues.
If elected, what solutions might you propose to address the concerns of residents local pet-amenities?
I think we should be able to identify appropriate space for all residents of Penticton - two-legged or four-legged. It really just means that invested parties and stakeholders need to come together and flush out the possible solutions. I am unfamiliar with issues specifically regarding safety and design or materials but would be interested in becoming informed about it in order to facilitate further discussion and decision-making to address the concerns. I am certainly impressed with facilities available in other locations, such as Fernie, Castlegar, Cranbrook and even closer to home in Peachland and West Kelowna. These facilities provide so much more than a fenced soccer field type option and include trees, running water, pathways and seating for owners, pools of water baths, agility areas and a separate area for small and large dogs as they have diverse needs. In many communities organizations like Elks or Rotary partner with the city to construct, maintain and patrol these areas to ensure safety and security for pets and owners alike - this could be a model we look to initiate here in Penticton.
What are your thoughts on the economic impact of non-use on our local pet-amenities and residents regularly commuting for preferable options?
In terms of economic impacts, I think local taxpayers who contribute to our municipal structure deserve facilities matching their needs, but I am not sure I see any clear evidence of significant loss of revenue to our community as a result of these gaps. This could simply be my lack of awareness, however, and I would be happy to learn more about the issue.
Ontario's Residential Tenancy Act, Section 14, states that a Landlord cannot prevent a tenant from owning pets. Meanwhile, pets are being surrendered daily, all over BC, because their owners cannot find pet-friendly housing. Penticton faces additional pressure for housing as we have some of the highest rent rates in Canada, and a severe shortage on long-term and year-round rentals of any variety.
While a change to the Residential Tenancy Act is a provincial government matter, municipal government can still move to include/promote similar clauses on a local scale, and has the ability to push in support of such a change if a Bill were proposed.
What are your thoughts on revising the Residential Tenancy Act in BC, to be like that of Ontario, in regards to pets and rentals?
I am interested to learn more about the feasibility of such a bylaw and whether or not it stands up if challenged legally. Given the absolute deficit of rental properties available currently, we will need to look at further development options and could look to mandate the inclusion of a portion of pet-friendly spaces within the initial development proposals; however, given the absence of affordable housing period I could easily
Penticton doesn't have an emergency veterinary clinic!
If something happens and an animal needs to see a vet in the evenings, on weekends or on holidays, residents need to drive an hour out of Penticton in order to reach help. Many pets do not make it, and many more don't because their human doesn't have access to transportation.
Were you aware of this situation?
Unfortunately, I was forced to make an emergency trip to Kelowna with my mother and her Shih Tzu after he was hit by a car in a crosswalk and needed to have his eyeball removed. It was a terrifying time for us certainly, but I recall being grateful for available emergency services that were actually accessible to us - regardless of the 45-minute drive. My mom had relocated from Edmonton and relayed that she had a 2-hour trip while living there, when her cat had needed emergency care, and nothing was immediately available to her. From her perspective, we had better access to services here than she did in a very large city.
When vital and time sensitive services are missing from a community, what do you feel are a City Council's responsibilities in regards to communication and/or action?
As a council, we can certainly investigate the reports or concerns of constituents regarding gaps in available services. After exploring the topic and consulting with stakeholders, it may be possible to lobby service providers to support them in overcoming the barriers they face in increasing access to services. It will likely show consistency with hurdles experienced in many other areas of service, and be related to a lack of available affordable housing and a deficit in terms of available adequate staff - all issues that will need to be a top priority for the new council.